Lift Bridge Opened to Vehicle Traffic 87 Years Ago

The bridge turned from the Aerial Ferry Bridge to the Aerial Lift Bridge on January 12th, 1930.

87 years ago, the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge opened for automobile traffic for the very first time. Hundreds of cars used it on that very first day and now over two million vehicles use it every year.

“The Aerial Lift Bridge is the most famous icon in all of Duluth.This is the best job for me. I have the best office view in all in the city of Duluth, ” said Mark Ryman, lift bridge operator.

The job of lift bridge operator is a fun job, but can be stressful. It changed forever in 1930 when the bridge changed from an aerial ferry to what we use now.

“People are fascinated by it because it’s possibly the largest operating machine in the city of Duluth if not the upper Midwest,” said Ryman.

The bridge used to have two operators on it at all times to watch for cars and pedestrian traffic. Now cameras, radio, and radar have changed it to one operator.

“It’s a constant hum of cars going across the bridge. It gets to the point in the summertime when you want to leave the doors open and let the fresh air in but after awhile just the hum of the cars going across the bridge, you’re like let’s turn on the AC, shut the doors because it gets to be monotonous,” said Dave Campbell, lift bridge supervisor.

It’s a bridge that not only lets cars go by, but connects people with their dreams.

“It’s something for all Duluthians to be proud of,” said Ryman.

The lift bridge made 4, 554 lifts in 2016 and it let 9,790 ships pass through.

When it did open to traffic in 1930, it did have only one lane open so the other side could be completed.


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